Feature / 12 Mar 2023

Channelling Group expertise

Online discussion gives valuable insight for smooth transits

After nearly 70 years of experience serving the shipping sector, GAC has a deep well of communal expertise - including informed support for vessels transiting key waterways such as the Panama and Suez Canals and Turkish and Danish Straits.

That wealth of knowledge was brought together in the first in a series of ‘Strait Talking’ discussions which went live on the GAC YouTube channel on 23 February, prompting multiple views and plenty of positive feedback on social media.

Ian Boyd, Group Sales Director – Shipping, acted as MC for the discussion, representing the link between the sales team and their specialist frontline operations colleagues.

He says: “It was at a shipping strategy meeting in Rotterdam that GAC Panama’s MD Alexei Oduber and I first discussed how we could bring together our canal and straits transit experts around the world in one forum. It was a huge pleasure to help bring this latest communications concept to fruition for the benefit of shipping customers.”

Determination and resilience
The history of human ingenuity to shorten sea voyages is a tale of determination in the face of seemingly unsurmountable obstacles. The first attempt to build the Panama Canal was abandoned due to tropical rains, yellow fever, financial woes and the loss of 20,000 lives. Hostilities halted traffic through the Suez Canal in the 1950s. And yet, in 2022, 23,583 and 14,239 vessels used the Suez and Panama Canals respectively (source: Suez Canal Authority & statista.com) to save time and money on their international voyages.

That determination and resilience that made that possible live on today in those handling transits worldwide. When, for instance, Panama Canal transits can sell for anything up to USD 2 million under auction, it pays to work with an agent with broad knowledge of the procedures and potential pitfalls. As one of the world’s largest shipping agents, GAC has the reach and resources to provide a full range of integrated services to ensure smooth, safe and cost-effective passage.

Broad spectrum
“Strait Talking provided our customers with a unique opportunity to listen to and learn how the world’s major waterways differ from each other and the different challenges each can present,” says Ian. “A broad spectrum of topics was discussed, from history to current transit times and how to minimise the risk of delay. At the same time, we were being mindful of the need to be concise in order to sustain our viewers’ engagement with the subject matter.”

Bringing together experts from different global regions and time zones for the face-to-face discussion is a great way to prompt further interaction, open doors to new relationships and strengthen new ones. The virtual environment gave us a platform to share their ‘Strait Talking’ wisdom in a smart and efficient way which circumvented considerable planning and resources it would take to arrange such a meeting in person.


More talks
“As we have received such positive feedback from a multitude of customers who said they found the session interesting and informative, we plan to host follow-on Strait Talking sessions as well as talks drawing on our extensive in-house expertise of other topics, such as crew change operations,” adds Ian.

“The flurry of activity on LinkedIn showed that this is a great way to enhance the connection with our customers as well as between GAC’s salesforce and operational colleagues. It all adds up to help us continue to improve the integrated ship agency and logistics services we provide worldwide.”

For more, contact our Strait Talking panellists:
Panama Canal – Alexei Oduber, Managing Director, GAC Panama
Suez Canal – Ahmed Mekawy, Deputy Manager, Shipping Services, GAC Egypt
Turkish Straits – Mithat Gemici, Chief of Shipping Operations, GAC Turkey
Danish Straits – Kenneth Jensen, Head of Operations, Shipping Agency, GAC Denmark

Watch the full Strait Talking discussion here.

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